- REUTERS/Jonathan Erns
US President Barack Obama said he is concerned that the way people consume news may be contributing to the growing divisiveness in the country.
“The biggest challenge that I think we have right now in terms of this divide is that the country receives information from completely different sources,” Obama said in an interview with Rolling Stone published this week.
Obama suggested the root of the problem is that some people only look to news sources that confirm their existing political views.
“People are no longer talking to each other; they’re just occupying their different spheres,” Obama said.
He also commented on the proliferation of fake news – a problem that put Facebook in the hot seat during the election.
“In an internet era where we still value a free press and we don’t want censorship of the internet, that’s a hard problem to solve,” he said.
At first, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg dismissed accusations that phony news stories on the social network influenced the outcome the election. But the company later announced plans to cut off websites that produce fake stories from its advertising network in order to prevent them from making a profit.
Earlier this month a BuzzFeed study showed that several fake news stories on Facebook significantly outperformed stories from legitimate news sources in the days leading up to the election.
Obama suggested one solution could be to create new business models that appeal to a wider audience and creates an inclusive dialogue about issues, rather than pursuing bombastic headlines.
“It’s making people exaggerate or say what’s most controversial or peddling in the most vicious of insults or lies, because that attracts eyeballs,” Obama said.